Value betting is something the best players all do and for so many
reasons. How many of you have played a hand that goes something like thisÖyou have A/K in late position and you decide to
open raise. The big blind, a fairly straight forward player, calls you. The flop comes out ace/queen/four. The big blind
checks and you bet. He calls. Hmm, what might he have? The turn is an inconsequential eight. The big blind checks to you
again. You decide he probably has a weaker ace than you - why not make him pay to hit his 2nd pair. You bet again. The river
brings a four - pairing the bottom card. Once again the big blind taps the table and the action is on you. Now the pot is
already very large and youíre both rather deep - should you bet the river? How many of you think, nah - the pot is big
enough already. What could he call me with? I donít want to get check-raised. In my humble opinion, this is a must bet. What
was your original read? You thought he had a weaker ace, right?
In Limit Holdíem itís an automatic bet, but for some reason players chicken out in No-Limit. If he has ace/queen - you probably
would have heard from him by now. This is the time to really punish your opponent. Donít give him a free showdown. Make him pay,
and make him pay dearly. Bet an amount that will really put him to the test. Donít make it look like you want a call.
I hope youíre following me here. If you make it look like you donít want to be called, you just might get that big bet on
the river paid off. Iím not saying to
over bet the pot Ė just donít make it look like a ďvalueĒ bet. If you get called, great! Youíve just made yourself some real
money. If you donít get called, thatís fine also. Donít show your cards,
rake in the pot and leave your opponent
wondering if they were just bluffed out of the pot.
I play and watch an
incredible amount of No-Limit Holdíem and the more I watch, the more I see the same betting patterns over and over. Most good, but
not great players will only bet the river if they have a huge hand or a bluff. They are not interested in ďvalueĒ betting the river
with their marginal hands. When I and you play against these types of players, it puts us in a real good spot because when they bet
the river, youíll be better equipped to either call or fold.
Okay, stay with me here. Youíre faced with a real tough decision on the river. Youíve checked to your opponent with a good,
but not great hand. Youíve essentially induced a bluff and sure enough your opponent bites. He tosses in a big bet, but now
youíre not so sure heís bluffing. Now, if you know that your opponent normally checks down his marginal hands, you now know
that heís either bluffing or heís got an absolute monster. You can replay the hand in your head from start to finish. Itís
all a story. Thereís a beginning, middle, and an end. If he has what heís trying to
represent itíll usually make sense. Does it?
Do you think he has that monster? Or could he be bluffing? By not betting his marginal hands, he is making it that much easier for
you to deduce what he has.
Some players will claim that there is no point to betting the river unless you can get a better hand out or a weaker hand to pay you
off. I say there is value anyway. How about the value of not having to show your cards Ė leave your opponents guessing. If youíre the
kind of player who bets his marginal hands on the river, itíll be that much harder to figure out where youíre at. Thatís the kind of
opponent I hate playing against... thatís the kind of player I want to become.
Previous Poker Term: Value
Next Poker Term: Variance
David was one of the commentators on Live at the Bike